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  • Locked thread
crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

aka sticklegs



Grimey Drawer

i just literally threw up

oh good page snipe

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Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER



flerp edited his post

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006

I failed to submit because I was so excited about New Zealander Tim Price winning the Burghley Horse Trials on the quirky but freakishly talented Ringwood Sky Boy



I want good stories and I want them on my desk yesterday! You knuckledraggers have until Sunday night here in New York to give me 1500 words of something goddamn interesting or you’re all fired!


Assignments:
flerp- Do Socialites Really Need Plastic Forks? This Cuban Spork Fan is Undecided
starr- Teenage and Feminist: Hanoi's Fishmongers
Some Strange Flea- We Executed Daniel Radcliff and Livetweeted About It
magnificent7- Burkas, Rubber Ducks, and Narcotics: On the Streets with Phil Collins in Cuba
Hammer Bro.- Meet the Taoist Steel Workers Who Are Putting Soft Grunge Back on the Map.
Thranguy- I Spent 72 Hours at a Sex Party with Houston's Miners
killa-pope- See What Happened When We Were Playing Russian Roulette For a loving Eternity in Brooklyn
The Unholy Ghost- We Flew to Jerusalem and Sold Moody Crystal Meth for Shits and Giggles
Chairchucker- I Began Life as a Whistleblower of the Russian Mob
Lazy Beggar- Find Out What Went Down When We Were Conducting Sacrifices for Passover in Sudan
Morning Bell- Meet the Writers Behind Berlin's Version of T.O.W.I.E.
Carl Killer Miller- I Masquerared as a Representative of the Burger Bar Boys
SurreptitiousMuffin- 4 Reasons Sundance is the Most Dangerous Place on Earth
The Saddest Rhino- I Documented a Muslim Hipster and Didn't Stop Them From Fellating Pol Pot
SkaAndScreenplays- Drumkits, Samurai Swords, and MCAT: At a Sex Party with Barack Obama in Williamsburg
Sailor Viy- How Moscow's Vine is Full of Abused Pig Farmers
sparksbloom- Find Out What Went Down When We Were In the Studio for A loving Eternity in Montenegro
Quidnose- ??????
The Cut of Your Jib- Find Out What Went On When We Were Undercover for 48 Hours in Ukraine
QuoProQuid- 13 Reasons Why Lebanon is the Seediest Place in the World

Assistant Editors:
Djeser
Chili

Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at Aug 27, 2016 around 05:17

flerp
Feb 25, 2014


in and im doing DO SOCIALITES REALLY NEED PLASTIC FORKS? THIS CUBAN SPROCK FAN IS UNDECIDED because im prob gonna forget it if i dont post it now

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004

THUNDERDOME LOSER



PALE SPECTRES posted:

To Make an Omelet

??????

Thanx for crit spex

starr
May 5, 2014

by FactsAreUseless


I'm in with Teenage and Feminist: Hanoi's Fishmongers

curlingiron
Dec 15, 2006

Adventure Awaits!


Fun Shoe

s7indicate3 posted:

poo poo. Now I've lost all 3 times I've entered. Gotta say I'm feeling pretty low right now. Any veterans got any advice on how not to suck as much?

Since you're here and I already have all of this written, these were my thoughts while reading your entry this week:

Congratulations on writing the most aggressively boring opening I’ve ever read in TD.

You have weird tense issues in this. Saying something “would” happen is … odd, I guess is the best way to put it, but it’s quite jarring and I’m not sure how to explain it. Honest to god, this is the first story I’ve read that I had to try to Google what was happening grammatically to explain it. So, using “would” implies that you are in past tense talking about what you/your character (then) conjectured was going to happen in the future. Why? Why are you doing this? There is no reason to ever do this.

Compare these two sentences:
“This thought would calm him down considerably.”
Vs
“This thought calmed him down considerably.”

See how much less awkward that second sentence is? Do you see how much less thought your reader has to put into parsing what is happening and when in the second one, versus the first? I would say as a general rule of thumb, the more you make your reader work to figure out your prose, the less likely they are to continue. For example, I stopped reading at your third paragraph, and had to force myself to come back to reading several hours later.

Here’s my rewrite of your fifth paragraph: “He finally got out of bed.” You used seventy-five words to say this.

Okay, I finally pushed through all of that. Oof.

Let’s talk briefly about intentionality. This is something that I’ve been struggling with lately, and I think that it’s helpful to think about as a writer. The most important thing that you can ask yourself while writing a story is why. Why are you doing what you are doing? What purpose does it serve? Does it further or hinder the narrative? What are you trying to achieve with each element?

You have a lot going on here, but the vast majority of it doesn’t seem to tie together at all. Perhaps you had a lot of interesting images in your mind when you sat down to write this, and you really, really wanted to put them all together. I’ve written stories like that. A lot of the time they’re not very good. This was not very good.

The biggest thing this story needed was bloodthirsty editing pass. I’m not often the type to harp on sparsity of prose, but you need to cut down on the words that you are using, especially at the beginning of your story. The beginnings of most stories should be ruthlessly pruned, and yours is painfully overgrown. Really, beginnings in general shouldn’t need that much room.

There are some interesting images and ideas in this, but I think at this point you would be better served by setting this aside and maybe using the elements elsewhere at a later time. Focus on essentials: create a sense of urgency and tension, make us care about your characters, want what they want. FEEL EMOTIONS. Read some Margaret Atwood or something, idk

When you sign up again, feel free to get on IRC and hit me up for a free precrit (unless it is forbidden for the week; sometimes that happens). YOU CAN GET BETTER, I BELIEVE IN YOU.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

s7indicate3 posted:

poo poo. Now I've lost all 3 times I've entered. Gotta say I'm feeling pretty low right now. Any veterans got any advice on how not to suck as much?

Here is a line crit of your story.

That Much he Knew

This is the story is of a man who, upon waking up, had absolutely no clue where he was. Let's start with your opening idea. How can someone who doesn't seem to know much about themselves or their situation be interesting? Well, they have to do things. And in fact, the less insight we have into the personality of the character, the more interesting their actions and the plot have to be

He was laying on a bed, that much he knew eh. Probably a bed inside a house, that much he supposed eeehhh. Either his own or somebody else’s, that much he theorized eeeh ok I see what you're doing here with the repetition, but it's the kind of conceit that needs to be punctuated with a revelation or a keen or unsettling observation Scanning around the room, he would notice a framed picture of a woman in the negative that smiled at him through black teeth on the bedside table. There is a lot wrong with that last sentence. You don't scan 'around' a room, you scan a room. And as the other crits already pointed out, your tense is all weird. Also, a spooooky picture doesn't do much to instill a sense of dread or intrigue That much he now knew, too.

Not wanting to know anymore, he would pull the bed sheets up to his neck and stare at the ceiling. He would think to himself, “if I don’t do anything; nothing will happen to me”. This thought would calm him down considerably. And so he laid, staring at the ceiling, achieving nothing and having nothing done unto "done unto" is really archaic and unnecessary him, for the better part of an hour, being as boring as humanly possible.

Okay, so you have a character who's paralyzed by the desire not to know more about his situation. Do you see the problem there? You have a very inactive protagonist, and we don't even get much of an insight into the sort of person we're reading about. Think of it this way: we've spent an awful lot of time in bed with your character, so we should know something about him. He's clearly in denial, but what is denial? It's something your brain does when it's trying to hold on to the status quo. Denial is like, you want to feel good, so you ignore what's bad (to put it in the vaguest terms possible). Your character doesn't have anything good to hold onto, as far as the reader can see, so this exercise in extreme denial (staying in bed, trying not to 'know' anything about his situation) doesn't seem to have very high stakes.

That is, of course, until the natural defects of such a plan would make themselves apparent to him and cause his stomach to rumble and his throat to ache.
“Just a glass of water,” he would think, “Just a glass of a water and then I hop back into this here bed "this here bed" is a weird contrast to "done unto him" from an earlier paragraph. It's casual-sounding speech as opposed to archaic narration. This story jumps a lot between tonal shifts like that again and continue staring at the ceiling, achieving nothing and having nothing done to me.”

And so he would finally began to rustle. Tentatively at first, but the more he would move, the more he would disprove his previous dictum, the more confidence he would seem to gain. At the peak of his confidence, he would lift his body out of the bed and sanguinely plant his feet on to the frigid concrete floor, all the while making sure his gaze didn’t cross with the negative’s on the bedside table. Okay, I'd nix this whole paragraph, but it does actually allude to one important thing: the woman in the spoooky photo. He doesn't want to look at her--why? There is something else he knows, or at least senses, and is in denial of. You're trying to build up a sense of dread surrounding this picture, but the protagonist doesn't really have much of a personal interaction with it. Other than being spooky, what does it make him think/feel? If you hadn't been so coy about this, you might not have needed to do a giant infodump at the end, where your actual plot happens.

Now out of bed, he couldn’t help but realize how painful it was to move his body. Not agonizing per se, but rather a dull sort of pain would accompany him every step of the way to the doorway on the far side of the room, the end of the hall thereafter, and finally to the open door of what ostensibly was the bathroom; the open door neatly framing the darkness beyond it I read this sentence out loud and it was like driving over a bumpy road while struggling to breathe through an asthma attack. Also 'thereafter', there you go with the purple prose again. . He would feel along the inside of the wall until he found the switch and flipped it on, causing all the light to flood out of the hall and into the bathroom. The door now framing the contour-less void from the other side, like flipping an hour-glass. This is the first sort of interesting thing to happen, tbh, but you've muddled it up with weird wording and sentence structure. The switch between "would do thing" and "thing is now happening" is confusing and distracting. IMO you should stick to barebones past tense for a while. He did this. They went there. Thing happened. Etc. Also, I want to examine that very last sentence fragment:

The door now framing the contour-less void from the other side, like flipping an hour-glass

The phrasing reads like the door's action of 'framing' the void is like flipping an hourglass. What you mean is, the sudden shift from light to dark was like an hourglass being flipped, except that in and of itself isn't a super great metaphor because light moves much quicker than sand. Like, I get what's happening here. He turns on the light in the bathroom, which turns the hallway into a void. But it's not super fun to parse all of that.


He would think that the switch seemed a queer thing. same

The bathroom was only big enough for the dazzlingly white toilet is the whiteness of the toilet really important enough to warrant a word like 'dazzlingly'? and sink, and a mirror which, upon further inspection, would seem to be seem to be? Is it or isn't it? held together by a piece of electrical tape along a crack that spread along the width of it. The reflection in the mirror showed the fractured face of a paltry old man in neatly pressed pyjamas with a cursive L.K. monogram stitched on to the breast. The man would be exploring his face with his hand along his smooth but wrinkled chin when he heard a maternal voice call out from the void beyond the door,

So does he know who he is or not? At this point, he's kind of a cadaver being wheeled through an amusement park haunted house. Even when he's looking at himself in the mirror, I'm genuinely unsure if he's meant to know his own identity or not. But then, moments later, he confirms his own name, so I guess he does? Also, he's completely lost sight of his only real goal, which is to have a cup of water.

“Good morning Mr. Kooenig.”
L.K. stared into the void. He would feel his voice rebel into a ball in his throat. How does something rebel into a ball? I know what you mean, but the metaphor is too fuzzy to land effectively
“You are Lars Koeenig, no?”
L.K. would nod.
“You were out of it for a lot longer than I had expected. Well Mr. Kooenig, if you can just step into the void, we can get on our way.”
“Who are you?” L.K. would manage to push out of pathetically quivering lips.
“It will all be revealed to you if you would be so kind as to show me the courtesy of stepping in to the void.”

And so L.K. would step into the void and find his foot level with an invisible floor. WHY? WHY DOES HE DO THIS? All we know about this guy is that he wants to stay in denial and not experience anything bad. Why would he listen to a disembodied voice telling him to step into utter blackness? Would YOU make that decision? The womb-like darkness stopping at his very rim I am not sure what 'rim' refers to, anatomically speaking. I mean, I have some ideas, but I don't think we're talking butt stuff, here. Unless . He emitted no light, but neither did the darkness encase him. He was thing in a void of nothing. "void of nothing" is almost comically redundant

Behind a blink ?????? , a glowing red pentacle would materialize. As L.K. would approach he would notice something floating upright in the centre: the negative of the woman from the bedside table.
“Recognize her?”
L.K. would nod.
“You hosed her and made me.” The butt stuff theory is gaining some traction
L.K. would start to see a figure form itself out of the darkness beyond the pentacle. Phasing in from the nothing as if being born. Pushing against it like film. All he would be able to make out was the contour of a human head.
“Step into the pentacle if you wish to learn more.” This story is starting to feel like a clickbait article or maybe like the first 20 minutes of a japanese psychological horror game or something
L.K. would step into the pentacle. Its glow intensifying as he would approach the portrait of the woman with black eyes. Okay, so, a pentacle is kind of a 2D symbol, right? Unless the pentacle is on the not-ground (because void) and the picture is floating over it...? Confusion like this is easily solved with just a few words. You have to remember to make the reader see what you're seeing in your head, hopefully in the simplest words possible. Also, "Its glow intensifying..." is a sentence fragment, but if you'd written this in regular past tense, that would've been easy to avoid. "Its glow intensified as he approached the portrait of the woman".
“Who am I?” LK would ask. Uh didn't he just confirm his own name?
“You are Lars Koeenig, incubus. The woman in the picture is your succubus. Tonight is our melding. Today is the culmination of centuries of struggle. You have grown old and I have worked tirelessly to bring you Youth. Today, we shall become One and take to the nether.” Ugh drowning in last minute exposition up to my very rim. Don't do this at the very end of a story
L.K. would feel his skin tighten and his knees shake as his knee caps pushed further and further inward until snapping and dropping him helplessly on the floor. Amidst screams of agony would the creature emerge from the darkness to reveal she had the body of a bird and the face of a beautiful crimson-headed woman. The succubus would begin to pluck her vocal chords,
“למה אתה מטריד לתרגם את זה”
As L.K’s eyes would roll like lost cueballs do lost cueballs roll differently than other kinds? in his skull. As the slick stalks of wings would burst through the flesh on his back. As he would feel his rim mould itself out of the nothing. Now I am genuinely wondering what his rim is

As he would become One with the help of the woman in the photograph. Yeah okay, sure

One problem with this ending is that you dump a bunch of explanatory magical flimflam right in the last couple of paragraphs. It amounts to "hey protag, you're totally hosed, the end." The main character has no means to resist their situation, and the reader has no insight into what's happening until the very end. And even then, it's just some literal talking head telling us the backstory before promptly doing some gory poo poo I don't care about to the protagonist. Because he didn't have much of a personality to connect with, I'm not terribly moved by his fate.

I pointed out some awkward phrasing. The biggest barrier to reading this story was the tense you used, which I think the judges already talked about. Stick to past tense for a while. It's easy, and invisible to the reader.

Simplify your sentences and don't feel the need to use over-elaborate language. It's better to tell a good story in plain, serviceable prose first. You can always go back in and add the poetic stuff later. There are times when the mood or characterization necessitates a little bit of flourish, but it needs to be used in the right proportions to be effective.

Write characters, not scenes. That's not a rule, but for you specifically, I think you should work on writing plots that center around one person with explicit motivations and a drive to achieve their goals. This will help you avoid that cadaverish feeling i mentioned in my linecrit.

Finally, read more of what you want to write! Cram your brain with it. And realize that a loss in Thunderdome is just a loss in Thunderdome. It's just a gigantic spotlight on what you need to work on. And that's not a bad thing to have. It's good information. I know it sucks and feels lovely, but you're learning poo poo every time you try. And that is the fundamental purpose of this whole dumb thread.

my cat is norris
Mar 11, 2010

#onecallcat



College Slice

Hi I'm an idiot, do I need to crit anything since I've submitted once?

Chairchucker
Nov 14, 2006

The man was stunningly well dressed. He had a smart looking jacket, and a really neat looking cape, the lining of which was shimmering and sparkling in more than Oriental splendour, which is a great deal of splendour indeed, just ask Kipling.

my cat is norris posted:

Hi I'm an idiot, do I need to crit anything since I've submitted once?

What? Like, for this prompt that just went up now?

Because this prompt doesn't have a crit prerequisite.

my cat is norris
Mar 11, 2010

#onecallcat



College Slice

I just meant in general.

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006

I failed to submit because I was so excited about New Zealander Tim Price winning the Burghley Horse Trials on the quirky but freakishly talented Ringwood Sky Boy

No, but you can. It's helpful to other people to get multiple perspectives (even if it's just: I stopped reading at this point) and it can be helpful to yourself to read how other people do things.

By the way everyone, this is a real loose prompt. You don't have to write a news article. Just give me something inspired by your headline.

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


I planned on critiquing all the stories. I managed one. Did this in judge mode. So your lucky, The Cut of Your Jib, that your story was next after s7ndicat3's, which already has a lot written about it.

Last Light - The Cut of Your Jib

I found this difficult to read. I don't understand what happened. Well, I do. But didn't understand certain scenes. I didn't really grasp the point of the story? Not much in the way of characters? And there are lot of words that are really wanky to me. “filigree” and “resplendence” stand out. Maybe I should have known the meaning of filigree, but I wonder why it was chosen instead of engravings?

Word choice isn't what caused my confusion though. The unclear generational and seasonal hops sorted that out for me. Can you stack chaff? Did Magdalena leave her baby in the garden with a dragon-like beast? “Fen towered over the baby.” “There was no malice in Fen” Fen sounds awfully menacing in the way he is acting around the baby, so much so that you need to tell me that it isn't intentional. I guess changing the readers perception of the situation isn't a bad thing, maybe even a good thing, but this is just heavy handed misdirection. “ Fen charred grass with each footfall, unable to control the ferocity of his power.” - this conjured up images of Fen marching on the spot because, last I heard, he was towering over the baby. I found following what was happening a little strenuous at times.

“Gideon had put the cart in the barn and was walking back to the house when he saw Fen fly overhead and out of sight.” – what's this line for?

“She hadn’t thought of Fen in many years.” – unlikely that she wouldn't have thought about the magical beast which was her constant companion growing up?

“She cautiously reached up to stroke Fen’s beak and smiled when they met.” – is the highlighted phrase necessary?

“She went to wake him and saw that it was frost.” – the white hair was actually frost? Did Gideon die and freeze while her pinky was intertwined with his? I feel like I am being dumb. What does “that” refer to? And she had already tried to wake him. Did she try and shake him, boot him, prod him awake? And found him frosty?

Are you a carpenter? Should I know what a shim is? Is the shim important? Does it suggest that the box is a lovely version of the one Maggie had as kid? What the ruddy hell is Gideon's curtain? Ah the curtains his mother made. Odd how confusing a singular curtain can be out of context.

“The light was not the morning sun” – what light? I suppose I should have known there was alight source casting the shadow of the tallest tree in the grove. Certainly wasn't thinking about it. Does that mean it is night? Or does it mean that Fen is brighter than the sun and it is morning? Has Maggie lost something? Did something happen that stopped the tree from producing eggs? Did the tree produce them? Was Fen meant to lay some ova, but didn't because she saw what a dick Maggie became when she had a kid? Was it a protest because Maggie disowned her and Fen didn't want that pain for her offspring?

“last light of the day reflecting off the gravestones of her parents.” – lots about light, eh? Time ticking. People dying. But I don't care at all. I know very little about Maggie. Not much about Fen. And less still about Gideon. I know nothing about Dalia. And gently caress having the gravestones of your parents within sight of your loving kitchen.

What I was hoping for when you opened with a weeping Maggie was an answer as to why she was so lachrymose. I thought she was scared to do whatever she had to do, especially as her father made her to it on her own? Ok reading it back I guess those were the ashes of her mother. Should I have realised that when reading it the first time? I guess. But why did her father make her go alone? I guess I thought it was a previous pet. Maybe her father's dragon-ish pet. You know, trade in your old one for a new one sort of deal. Is that why Dalia didn't get a new one? What happened to Fen after Maggie died? And how come you spent so much time showing me that Maggie was sad in the opening couple of paragraphs, and didn't describe either Dalia or Maggie being sad when Gideon's curtain was buried? Is the curtain symbolic of Gideon being a poo poo? All this light imagery and he is associated with something that's sole purpose is to block out light. Ah gently caress it.

Some Strange Flea
Apr 9, 2010

AAA


Pillbug

Just to be clear: 1500 max or min?

In with WE EXECUTED DANIEL RADCLIFFE AND LIVETWEETED ABOUT IT

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


I'm in. I'm back. I'm in. I need to write.
Need to have people tell me how my writing made them lose faith in the future of literature.
And I need to finish.

BURKAS, RUBBER DUCKS AND NARCOTICS: ON THE STREETS WITH PHIL COLLINS IN CUBA

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


Midnight

Decent prose. Open section is a bit clunky. I only had to a read a few sentences more than once. Had a plot. I felt some satisfaction when Sir Father was mauled by Midnight. However, the level of violence made me cringe at times. “Shona didn’t eat lunch or pay attention for the rest of the day,” - made me sad, the circle and all. I'd avoid over using — in your dialogue. Pretty sure the speakers weren't interrupted most of the time you used it, once when she was slapped by the crop. I think you could have elicited the same emotional response without so much violence. I know it is notoriously difficult to tell when a child is being abused, but in this instance I'm pretty sure her teacher would have noticed. Midnight noticed as soon as he met Shona. Dialogue and tags were maybe the weakest aspect of this story.

How Feathers Fall

“with each feather seeming to have its own idea as to what color would best suit its host” – made me stop reading during my first attempt.

“His pantry grew bare. Though he had acquired a lingering fondness for the bird, Nargir's hunger persisted.” – could have spent more time working up to Nargir being so hungry that he would eat his only friend.

You had loads of a words left to work on the relationship between Shaffers and Nagir. I wasn't so shocked that the decided to eat the bird. Maybe shocked that it took so long.

“he required nothing of his Nargir, his caretaker” - I first thought Nargir was a technical term for caretaker in this world of yours because of the possessive adjective qualifying Nargir. Turns out Nargir doesn't care for the bird at all.

Why didn't the magic work before? Did he desire the companionship of this lifeless bird more than wealth?

I found it odd that Nargir struggled to get by for years and then, only as his pantry grew bare and wasn't yet empty, he decided to ring Shaffer's neck. Also, he had wood for fire. That isn't not rock bottom. Come back to me when he uses the floorboards.

IV

IV reads as four to me without context. Took me too long to realise it was an intravenous stand. loving write the word out.

I struggled through this one. I didn't help that you had some friendly monster that was probably an hallucination and multiple dream sequences. It didn't help that your protagonist didn't do anything. Not sure what Swiss is doing at the end. Could have done with another edit or you used odd phrases. “Cleaner air that fills his nostrils.” – unfinished sentence? Remove 'that'?
“She turns her head and smiles as she picks at her cafeteria chicken and, after a moment of fussiness, puts down her half-eaten meal before walking into Tory’s room.” – needs to be one sentence?

“Before she leaves, she scratches Tory’s head. It’s dull and soothing.” – is Tory a dog?

“Tory sees over the heads of the other children, which makes it easier to bear when they ignore him.” – something jarring about this.
“He missed recess,” this tense shift messed me up. I thought this was a flashback to Tory's childhood, explaining the significance of Swiss.

“Tory almost loses his grip in Swiss’ oily mane. For once, Tory is thankful he has no hair to flop into his face.” – Tory is thankful that he has no hair to flop into his own face? I first read this as Tory being thankful that Swiss didn't have hair to flop into Tory's face. Which was absurd immediately following “oily mane.” Why is Tory thankful for no hair in this situation?

“They make it to the front of the lobby, where Abi chases out of an elevator.” – just another example of a jarring sentence. I'm pretty sure “chases” needs an object.

“He looks toward the IV and he punched the bag weakly, it response it swings.” - in response?

A cancer-ridden kid dreams of taking a bus? But needs a Swiss-Army-knife monster to facilitate this dream? This wasn't obvious to me on the first reading. Might be my fault. Might not be though.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk

my cat is norris posted:

Hi I'm an idiot, do I need to crit anything since I've submitted once?

The two things that you can do that will never get you shouted at here are write stories, and crit stories.

Brawling and shitposting are also excellent ways to use your time but do not offer the same ironclad guarantee.

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013



Hey, s7indicate3. Here's a crit for you, and I'm going to try to focus on immediately actionable things you can do to improve your stories.

s7indicate3 posted:

Submission - Week #211 - Next-Best Friend Week

That Much He Knew
949 Words

This is the story is of a man who, upon waking up, had absolutely no clue where he was.

He was laying on a bed, that much he knew. Probably a bed inside a house, that much he supposed. Either his own or somebody else’s, that much he theorized. Scanning around the room, he would notice a framed picture of a woman in the negative that smiled at him through black teeth on the bedside table. That much he now knew, too.

Not wanting to know anymore, he would pull the bed sheets up to his neck and stare at the ceiling. He would think to himself, “if I don’t do anything; nothing will happen to me”. This thought would calm him down considerably. And so he laid, staring at the ceiling, achieving nothing and having nothing done unto him, for the better part of an hour, being as boring as humanly possible.

Starting a story is tricky. I think it's generally not good to start a story with your character waking up. The reason why is this: you should start a story when things get interesting. Starting with someone waking up is enticing, because they're slowly coming to understand their situation, just like you're slowly sussing out the details as you write. But don't do that. Or if you do, write them waking up, then cut that part. Ask yourself "where do interesting things start happening in my story?" and then start there.

You spent three paragraphs that ended with "he did nothing and nothing happened and it was boring".

quote:

That is, of course, until the natural defects of such a plan would make themselves apparent to him and cause his stomach to rumble and his throat to ache.
“Just a glass of water,” he would think, “Just a glass of a water and then I hop back into this here bed again and continue staring at the ceiling, achieving nothing and having nothing done to me.”

And so he would finally began to rustle. Tentatively at first, but the more he would move, the more he would disprove his previous dictum, the more confidence he would seem to gain. At the peak of his confidence, he would lift his body out of the bed and sanguinely plant his feet on to the frigid concrete floor, all the while making sure his gaze didn’t cross with the negative’s on the bedside table.

Now out of bed, he couldn’t help but realize how painful it was to move his body. Not agonizing per se, but rather a dull sort of pain would accompany him every step of the way to the doorway on the far side of the room, the end of the hall thereafter, and finally to the open door of what ostensibly was the bathroom; the open door neatly framing the darkness beyond it. He would feel along the inside of the wall and flip on the light switch, causing all the light to flood out of the hall and into the bathroom. The door now framing the contour-less void from the other side, as if he had flipped an hour-glass.

The stylistic choice of conditional tense (he would do x) isn't working here. I think the intended effect is to make 'when' this story happened seem indistinct, but because it wavers between conditional and regular past tense, it just feels like I'm getting slapped in the face with 'would' every so often. Choosing a weird tense to write in is tricky, and if you don't pull it off, it becomes distraction instead of flavor. There's also a problem with word cruft in some of these sentences. You can trim out phrases like "of course," and "rather" and "couldn't help but" and it's only going to improve the impact of your sentences. Those are empty phrases and they steal attention from the important stuff you want to convey.

Some other grammar notes: Your sentences get too long. This is something that I mess up in first drafts all the time. Everything from "Not agonizing..." to "..the darkness beyond it." is one sentence, and you travel through three different actual topics. (You start with pain, then moving into the hall, then the dark bathroom.) Also, the last sentence in that block has an incorrect tense. "The door now framing" should be "The door now framed".

quote:

He would think that the switch seemed a queer thing.

The bathroom was only big enough for the porcelain-white toilet and sink, and a mirror which, upon further inspection, would seem to be held together by a piece of electrical tape along a crack that spread along the width of it. The reflection in the mirror showed the fractured face of a paltry old man in neatly pressed pyjamas with a cursive L.K. monogram stitched on to the breast. The man would be exploring his face with his hand along his smooth but wrinkled chin when he heard a maternal voice call out from the void beyond the door,
“Good morning Mr. Kooenig.”
L.K. stared into the void. He would feel his voice rebel into a ball in his throat.
“You are Lars Koeenig, no?”
L.K. would nod.
“You were out of it for a lot longer than I had expected. Well Mr. Kooenig, if you can just step into the void, we can get on our way.”
“Who are you?” L.K. would manage to push out of pathetically quivering lips.
“It will all be revealed to you if you would be so kind as to show me the courtesy of stepping in to the void.”

I hope here you realized the awkwardness of this conditional-progressive "would be exploring" construction. But enough about grammar, let's talk about story. Right now, I'm more than halfway through, and I know nothing about the protagonist. He's old, and he doesn't know where he is. Who is he? What does he want? Why can't he get what he wants? These are essential questions to writing a story, but I don't know anything about him. I don't know what's at stake. And now that characters are finally talking, they're deliberately not revealing information. I'm not saying I have to know everything. Plenty of stories work with slow reveals or information that remains concealed. That's the MO for a lot of horror. But even in horror, the reader should know what the character wants. They should be able to sympathize with the character's struggle. If they don't know anything about the character, they won't be able to sympathize with them, and they won't care about the story.

quote:

And so L.K. would step into the void and find his foot level with an invisible floor. The womb-like darkness stopping at his very rim. He emitted no light, but neither did the darkness encase him. He was thing in a void of nothing.

Behind a blink, a glowing red pentacle would materialize. As L.K. would approach he would notice something floating upright in the centre: the negative of the woman from the bedside table.
“Recognize her?”
L.K. would nod.
“You hosed her and made me.”
L.K. would start to see a figure form itself out of the darkness beyond the pentacle. Phasing in from the nothing as if being born. Pushing against it like film. All he would be able to make out was the contour of a human head.
“Step into the pentacle if you wish to learn more.”
L.K. would step into the pentacle. Its glow intensifying as he would approach the portrait of the woman with black eyes.

The problems here are ones that I already mentioned. Your tenses are messy, 'would' sounds bad (especially 'as he would approach he would notice'), and you can't make a whole sentence where the only verb is in the progressive tense ('The womb-like darkness stopping' is not a sentence.) And I still don't know what's going on, your character has still done nothing, and it's impossible to sympathize with him.

quote:

“Who am I?” LK would ask.
“You are Lars Koeenig, incubus. The woman in the picture is your succubus. Tonight is our melding. Today is the culmination of centuries of struggle. You have grown old and I have worked tirelessly to bring you Youth. Today, we shall become One and take to the nether.”
L.K. would feel his skin tighten and his knees shake as his knee caps pushed further and further inward until snapping and dropping him helplessly on the floor. Amidst screams of agony would the creature emerge from the darkness to reveal she had the body of a bird and the face of a beautiful crimson-headed woman. The succubus would begin to pluck her vocal chords,
“למה אתה מטריד לתרגם את זה”
As L.K’s eyes would roll like lost cueballs in his skull. As the slick stalks of wings would burst through the flesh on his back. As he would feel his rim mould itself out of the nothing.

As he would become One with the help of the woman in the photograph.

After a splurt of information right at the end, I'm still left not knowing what's going on. What's the nether? What's his 'rim'? Why is turning into a bird-person 'becoming One' when it sounds more like he's just going full demon like her? If the woman in the picture is his succubus, but the bird-woman is his child from the succubus, why does she want to become One with him instead of the succubus? I'm not saying you need to answer these questions, but I'm trying to show you the sort of things that left me confused. If you're going for horror, you don't always need to explain why, but there should be a sense that there's some reason behind it, even if it's something the reader is never privy to. (Also, minor quibble: vocal cords, not vocal chords.)

But I want to talk a little bit about things that worked. Even though you ate the loss, I've seen much, much worse stories that lost. I've seen people fight the English language for every word in their story, whereas here, the worst crimes against English were stuff I find in my own rough drafts from time to time. There's nothing about your prose itself that's keeping you from writing a decent story. And there's some cool images in there, like a negative photograph and the human-headed bird, that show me that if you could dig down and elaborate on your ideas and focus your story structure, you could write some interesting stuff.

To sum up, here's a list of things you can do with your next story.
  • Start when things get interesting.
  • Give your main character a conflict: something he wants, but has to struggle to achieve.
  • Establish stakes. What's keeping your character from what he wants? What is he risking by pursuing it?
  • Cut empty words that rob attention from the words that matter.

Hammer Bro.
Jul 7, 2007

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Perhaps I wasn't loud enough last time.

In with Meet the Taoist Steel Workers Who Are Putting Soft Grunge Back on the Map.

Hey, 'domers I'm soliciting flash rules. You've got until I start thinking about my prompt in earnest 'til I tell you to stuff it; that's probably 7:30 PDT.

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

College kids ain't shit


Grimey Drawer

Lazy Beggar posted:

How Feathers Fall
I found it odd that Nargir struggled to get by for years and then, only as his pantry grew bare and wasn't yet empty, he decided to ring Shaffer's neck. Also, he had wood for fire. That isn't not rock bottom. Come back to me when he uses the floorboards.

This was such a great loving point, thank you so much for the insight!

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


Hammer Bro. posted:

Hey, 'domers I'm soliciting flash rules.

Your protagonist wants to be the lead singer, but he can't sing.

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why didn't you invest in
Thunderdome?


Hammer Bro. posted:

Perhaps I wasn't loud enough last time.

In with Meet the Taoist Steel Workers Who Are Putting Soft Grunge Back on the Map.

Hey, 'domers I'm soliciting flash rules. You've got until I start thinking about my prompt in earnest 'til I tell you to stuff it; that's probably 7:30 PDT.

There must be a limerick in your story

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

'Read over your compositions, and when you meet a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.' -Samuel Johnson

In with I SPENT 72 HOURS AT A SEX PARTY WITH HOUSTON'S MINERS

killa-pope
May 21, 2008


IN with SEE WHAT HAPPENED WHEN WE WERE PLAYING RUSSIAN ROULETTE FOR A loving ETERNITY IN BROOKLYN.

Oh god what have I done.

The Unholy Ghost
Feb 19, 2011

"I can't wait to see you say it again after I come back from the military."


Does this prompt have to be written in the form of a news article, or can it be written as a regular story?

EDIT: Got it.

In with "We Flew to Jerusalem and Sold Moody Crystal Meth for Shits and Giggles".

The Unholy Ghost fucked around with this message at Aug 23, 2016 around 20:45

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006

I failed to submit because I was so excited about New Zealander Tim Price winning the Burghley Horse Trials on the quirky but freakishly talented Ringwood Sky Boy

Tyrannosaurus posted:

You don't have to write a news article.

Write a story please.

flerp
Feb 25, 2014


offering five line by lines for any story

first come first serve one per customer newbies more than welcome

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

College kids ain't shit


Grimey Drawer

flerp posted:

offering five line by lines for any story

first come first serve one per customer newbies more than welcome

I was thinking about doing something with this one, so I'd appreciate more eyes.

http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=4885

Chairchucker
Nov 14, 2006

The man was stunningly well dressed. He had a smart looking jacket, and a really neat looking cape, the lining of which was shimmering and sparkling in more than Oriental splendour, which is a great deal of splendour indeed, just ask Kipling.

I'm in someone pick me a headline I'm bad at decisions.

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

College kids ain't shit


Grimey Drawer

Chairchucker posted:

I'm in someone pick me a headline I'm bad at decisions.

Still debating if I want in or not, so have this one for now:



Russian Goodfellas

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


Find Out What Went Down When We Were Conducting Sacrifices for Passover in Sudan

I hate that site. In.

Lazy Beggar fucked around with this message at Aug 23, 2016 around 22:17

QuoProQuid
Jan 12, 2012

WHO LOVES BLOOD SODA?
KEL LOVES BLOOD SODA!


I do. I do. I do-oo.


flerp posted:

offering five line by lines for any story

first come first serve one per customer newbies more than welcome

hi, please crit my lovely story

Echo Cian
Jun 16, 2011



flerp posted:

offering five line by lines for any story

first come first serve one per customer newbies more than welcome

How about http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?...=Rattus+Nobiles while I'm still thinking of editing it?

Morning Bell
Feb 23, 2006



Yams Fan

In with MEET THE WRITERS BEHIND BERLIN'S VERSION OF T.O.W.I.E.

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010

I got it wrong. Look, I'm well aware I got it wrong and uh, I got it wrong.


flerp posted:

offering five line by lines for any story

first come first serve one per customer newbies more than welcome
Please do my most recent one. I am trying to figure out what didn't work.

Link

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007


I MASQUERADED AS A REPRESENTATIVE OF THE BURGER BAR BOYS

If you pick anything other than the first headline you are given, get out


IN IN IN

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010

I got it wrong. Look, I'm well aware I got it wrong and uh, I got it wrong.


In with 4 REASONS SUNDANCE IS THE MOST DANGEROUS PLACE ON EARTH.

The Saddest Rhino
Apr 29, 2009

I could hear the roots of loneliness creeping through me when the world was hushed at four o'clock in the morning


Tyrannosaurus posted:



I want good stories and I want them on my desk yesterday! You knuckledraggers have until Sunday night here in New York to give me 1500 words of something goddamn interesting or you’re all fired!

Assignments:
flerp- Do Socialites Really Need Plastic Forks? This Cuban Spork Fan is Undecided
starr- Teenage and Feminist: Hanoi's Fishmongers

in with I DOCUMENTED A MUSLIM HIPSTER AND DIDN'T STOP THEM FROM FELLATING POL POT

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013



I'll co-judge this week.

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spectres of autism
Feb 12, 2011

~it's like people say we're all gonna die
but me it's different i'm not trying to be alive~




Fuschia tude posted:

Thanx for crit spex

since my first crit of this was basically i dont like eggs here is an

*~!alt crit!~*

of To Make an Omelet

k so the problem with this title tho actually is that it puts the reader in the following mindset. is this story in best friend monster week going to be about an egg monster friend? then hes just like yes. it mite not sound like a big deal but its just like, less anxiety of information or w/e is not helpful to how a story is processed. it just isnt

also its mommy, not mummy. a mummy is an old egyptian dead thing with bandages

geospatially her hiding place is under the porch. this is realistically not far enough from wherever the photo would be taken for cries of her name to grow "quieter and less insistent"

blocking wise "she reached out to touch it and it moved" "it scooted out of her grasp" if it moved before she touched it it would never b in her grasp

having her hurl someth at the egg makes her seem like a dick, espesh since this is someth humankind has never encountered

how does the hand reach out of the egg? does it fold out of like folds of egg shell skin? does it break through in a cracking motion? i suspect you didnt really think about it which is why you didnt describe it

you finally get around to describing the egg halfway thru the story which is bad but even worse is that its literally just an egg making the description pointless

you describe how it transforms which is a pro move but its the sort of description that should have been used throughout the story

ig big dolly and little dolly are dolls? ig they are cuz of their name. theyre not important at all tho

"He never complained, never asked for food or water. She didn’t think to ask how he lived. He simply was." this should be an important biological fact or psychological insight into her character but it rly is neither of those things. its rly just a handwave to keep the story going

do "always hid" instead of "always seemed to hid" what do you get out of seemed to?

ig the egg ring thing is foreshadowing that this is time loop messery. if so thats not the most atrocious foreshadowing this week

here it feels like there mite be consequences for standing too much but there never are. ig its cuz of egg magic? w/e

"soon she could walk without it. (She did that sometimes, anyway. But it was too tiring to walk for long without it.)" awkward phrase redundancy

ok so i thought the photograph meant it was a time loop. but like, i mean, this is for school. the mom photograph is someth else. it took me two readings to realize that

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENED IN THIS STORY IS POINTLESS

the eggs friendship was as disposable as flash fiction stories posted on the internet

this is not a precedent that if you complain about my crit you get another ok?

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